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Official Review by Robert Pryce, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
The Hawthorns has been the home for West Bromwich Albion football club since 1900. It has a capacity of 27,000. It is the sixth ground used by the club.
In 1949 the ground installed the first ever electronic turnstile aggregator, in order to automatically calculate attendance. Following the Taylor Report, the ground became all-seated with first the Smethwick End and then the Birmingham Road End terraces being demolished and replaced by all-seater stands, giving it a capacity of more than 25,000. In 2001 the Rainbow Stand was replaced by the new larger East Stand. In 2002 the club was the first to install big screens in the widescreen format. Later that year they hosted the first ever Premier League match at the stadium, a 1-3 defeat to Leeds United.
The stadium is located in West Bromwich, Sandwell, just outside the major city of Birmingham.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The Hawthorns have one of the better selections I have come across at football grounds in England. Burgers and hot dogs cost £3.30, pizza and pies cost £3.00, chips cost £2.50 and assorted snacks cost from £1.20. Hot and soft drinks come at a price of £2.00, and water is £1.80.
Lager and different ciders cost from £3.60, a spirit with mixer costs £4.00 and wine costs £3.30.
The Balti Pie (curried chicken) is recommended and meal deals are available too. Be prepared to queue though as lines can get very long, either leave a few minutes before the end of the half or go at a different time. Food and soft drinks can be taken back into the ground but alcoholic drinks must be consumed in the concourse.
In the stadium there is plenty of noise from the home and away ends. Two big screens show replays as well. Leg space is slightly cramped especially if you are tall. Concourses are narrow so can be quite cramped at halftime or pregame. Views of the game are great from any seat and you are never far away from the action.
There are electronic ticket scanners at the turnstiles when entering the ground resulting in quick queue times.
In the immediate vicinity of the ground there is very little on offer. A McDonalds is across the road from the ground but apart from that you are a bit stuck if you want pre-match food or drinks. However with Birmingham so close, it's recommended to go into the city before or after a game and visit its many pubs, restaurants or shops.
The West Brom fans usually fill the stadium and are close to sell out each and every game. They also make plenty of noise. The acoustics in the stadium helps this and with a good away following at a game the atmosphere can be electric. The fans from the Black Country can be very friendly as well, joking about poor results and are willing to help a fellow fan with any information that is needed.
As the Hawthorns is located just outside of Birmingham there are plenty of transport links to the ground. A train station, 'Hawthorns,' is just a five minute walk away from the ground and can be reached from Moor Street or Snow Hill stations which are in the middle of Birmingham and easy to get too. Trains take less than 10 minutes.
The stadium is situated just off the motorway, leave the M5 at junction 1 and take the sign for the A41 East. You should end up at the stadium.
There is plenty of parking around the ground and costs around £5. I would advise getting there early though to avoid missing out on a space.
Toilets are clean and there is also plenty of help and access for disabled people as well.
One warning though, the return train can be hard to catch and waiting times are very long as the station is small. Check timetables on the National Rail website.
There are two categories for ticket prices. Games against smaller opposition cost £25 which is very reasonable for a Premier league game. Ticket prices for category 'A' games though which are against the likes of Arsenal, Aston Villa and Liverpool cost a high £40.
Concession tickets for children, seniors and students bring these prices down.
All info on when tickets go on sale to the general public and further prices can be found on the club website.
There is a fan shop which sells all the normal merchandise one would find in a club shop. There are also plenty of VIP boxes if you want a higher level of experience. You can also buy a programme from inside or outside the ground and these cost £3.00.
Member Review by Anluanhennigan
The Hawthorns has been the home of West Bromwich Albion since 1900, the club having been founded 22 years earlier by the workers of George Salter's spring works. An original member of the Football League, it is steeped in the tradition of English football.
The club has emerged from the financial destitution and acrimony of the 1990s to become a pall-bearer of aesthetically pleasing Premier League football. The replacement of the Rainbow Stand by the East Stand in 2001 represents the most recent development of the ground, making it all-seater and bringing it into line with the majority of modern stadia.
Plans have long been mooted for further development and an increase in capacity. They have been stymied however by the club's intermittent relationship with England's top division. West Brom have earned a reputation as a "yo-yo" club, having gone through a number of promotions and relegations in the last decade.
However, they have stayed within their means, bought players efficiently and smartly and maintained a marvellous footballing philosophy. The 2010-11 season looks like it might finally be a vindication of that strategy with West Brom establishing themselves firmly in the Premier League.
152 Roebuck St
West Bromwich, England B70 6RD
0121 553 2866
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